In 1934, a young entrepreneur by the name of John Baldwin opened a tiny confectionary on Merchant Street in downtown Decatur, Illinois. Mr. Baldwin was a type-printer by trade and ran his printing business in the basement of the same building occupied by his confectionary. He called his store ďThe Popcorn ShopĒ, for his main product was popcorn, a simple delicacy for a city recovering from the Great Depression.
The Popcorn Shop was successful from the very day it opened because of the delicious products that were made daily from scratch. The tempting aromas drifted through the doors and out into the streets luring customers inside. Many Decatur residents still fondly recall buying popcorn to take to the movies in the old Lincoln Theatre across the street.
In 1945, Mr. Baldwin leased his thriving business to Del Barnett and his wife Emily. Del and Emily carried on Mr. Baldwinís tradition of fine service and quality products and The Popcorn Shop continued to grow. In 1946, Del and Emily Barnett were given the opportunity to purchase The Popcorn Shop and did so eagerly. They changed the name to Delís Popcorn Shop which reflects the pride Del had in his business.
Upon their retirement in 1975, the Barnettís sold Delís Popcorn Shop to Terry Tomlinson, a young Decatur business man. In his employ was Bob Barnett, the brother of Del Barnett. Bob Barnett had been a loyal employee of Delís Popcorn Shop for over forty years by then, and it was Bob who passed along the special recipes and magical techniques for making Delís famous popcorn. Mr. Tomlinson owned Delís Popcorn Shop for three years until he sold it to his cousin Lou Ann Jacobs in 1978. Lou Ann Jacobs owned the Decatur, Illinois store through its 75th year of business. On October 1, 2009, Ms. Jacobs retired after 31 years in the popcorn business when she sold the Decatur store to Kemper Wilcutt II and his wife Jessica Wilcutt.
In 1980, Lou Ann Jacobs brought the fine reputation of Delís Popcorn Shop to Springfield, IL. She opened Delís Popcorn Shop at its first Springfield location at 210 South 6th Street in historic downtown Springfield. Although Delís Popcorn Shop was new to Springfield, it enjoyed immediate success attributable to duplication of the proven principles of fine service and quality products established at the original store. A short move to 206 South 6th Street was completed prior to the sale of the store to Lou Annís sister Shellie Jacobs in 1984.
Shellie Jacobs operated Delís Popcorn Shop at that location until 1999, when she and her husband Kurt Kohlrus purchased a historic building across the street at 213 South 6th Street, next door to Abraham Lincolnís law office, relocating the store again. The historic architecture of this building and the popcorn antiques and collectibles displayed within create an authentic old-time experience. In 2010, Del’s Popcorn Shop in Springfield celebrated its 30th anniversary of business.
Joining his sisters in the popcorn business in 2002, Mike Jacobs and his wife Trudy Jacobs opened the third Delís Popcorn Shop, known as Delís Express, in Mt. Zion, IL, at 1555 West Main. This shop was located inside a convenience store and was a somewhat smaller version of the other two stores. In August of 2007, Delís Express was relocated to 100 Debby Drive in Mt. Zion to accommodate the growth in the businesses clientele and product lines. It now offers the same full line of products found at the other two stores.